• Image Credit: Zan Dubin Scott
  • Image Credit: Zan Dubin-Scott
  • Image Credit: Zan Dubin-Scott
  • Image Credit: Zan Dubin-Scott
  • Image Credit: Zan Dubin Scott
  • Image Credit: Zan Dubin Scott
  • Image Credit: Zan Dubin Scott
To say that the Internet was excited about the mysterious Tesla D before tonight's official announcements were made is a terrible understatement. Amid a bunch of excited tweets and frustrating attempts at getting a livestream from the event, USA Today published the first story that described some of the new D's features. Automotive News followed suit, but both of those articles were quickly taken down. On site at the Hawthorne airport in Los Angeles, CA, our friend Zan Dubin-Scott tweeted about an overheard comment before Musk took the stage, "What he's about to say - you need to feel, not just hear about." The 'he' here is Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Yeah, people were ready for something big.

But the news didn't quite live up to the hype. How could it, really? People wanted to see the first glimpse of the Model 3 or even the production Model X, but all they got were improvements to the current Model S. Thankfully, these are interesting improvements. Here's what Elon's D is all about:
  • The new all-wheel drive Model S – the "D" – will get 10 more miles of range to a max of 275 miles thanks to increased overall efficiencies in the powertrain that Musk called, "a huge improvement." All Model S EVs that have AWD will be designated with a "D," so the P85 "performance" model will become the P85D when it has AWD, for example. The D models will also have a higher top speed and a decreased 0-60 time of just 3.2 seconds. "Literally everything improves about the car with dual-motor," Musk said.
  • The "something else" is the "A," which is the other letter that Musk said he was glad he didn't tease when he said he would "reveal the D." The A is a suite of Tesla autopilot autonomous driving technologies and it's been in production for the last two weeks (no kidding). The new technological bits include a long-range forward-looking radar, a camera with image recognition that can read things like signs and know where pedestrians are, and a 360-degree, long-range sonar. This will all be integrated into the GPS, navigation and real-time traffic, which means that the car is now capable of being semi-autonomous. But Musk said that there are not enough safety redundancies built in to the vehicle quite yet, so it's really just a tremendously advanced active safety system. Unfortunately, the new bits cannot be retrofitted into earlier Model S vehicles.
  • These autopilot doohickeys mean that the car will also be able to autopark or drive up to where you are waiting for it (as long as you're on private property). If you have the calendar programmed correctly, the car can even come meet you on time. What makes all of this possible is the electric powertrain, Musk said. People at the event were loudly excited about all of this autopilot stuff, which makes us think a lot of them must have tremendously long driveways. Musk said that the next thing he wants the car to do is automatically plug itself in, and he announced that, "we will probably do something like that." He made no mention of wireless charging or how much all of this new tech would cost.
Viewed from afar – a huge thanks to reader Seth for his bootleg livestream – the event included a robot arm swirling a skateboard Model S powertrain around in the air and Musk looking loose and enjoying himself. Referencing some of the Internets jokes about Musk's Tweet about revealing "the D," Musk started out his speech by saying, "You'll notice my pants have velcro seals. But that may have mixed appeal." His improved car, though, will likely be enjoyed by pretty much everyone.

UPDATE: Tesla has released an official video of the D's reveal event, which is viewable below.


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